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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

About two-thirds of service-sector workers said they could not take leave, or took less leave than they wanted, when they experienced a major life event, according to a Harvard and UC San Francisco study released today. Within this group, 71% said the reason was they couldn’t afford to.

Why it matters: Part of President Biden’s American Families Plan provides 12 weeks of guaranteed paid family and sick leave to workers, marking the first time that a U.S. president has introduced a national-level paid leave program.

By the numbers: The study, which Axios is first to report, shows exactly how difficult it was for low-income workers to think about taking time off in the fall of 2020 — whether for a personal medical need, caregiving, new child or a combination of qualifying events.

  • Men (38%) were more likely than women (28%) to say they didn't take leave or as much as they would have liked to out of fear that they would lose their jobs.
  • Hispanic workers (53%) and Black workers (49%) were the most likely to say they felt pressure to avoid taking time off or fear job loss compared with white workers (39%).
  • The survey covered 8,500 of those who worked for 85 of the largest companies across retail, grocery, delivery and fulfillment and food service, including Walmart, Target and Starbucks.
  • The median wage of workers surveyed was $12.75 per hour.

What they're saying: The study is among the first to document the extent to which paid leave is inaccessible among front-line low-wage workers, researchers Elaine Zundl, Julia Goodman and Daniel Schneider tell Axios.

The bottom line: Making the case for paid leave, financially fragile workers "are serving food and going hungry," Schneider says.

Go deeper

Activision hit with labor complaint

"Call of Duty: Vanguard." Image: Activison

A union supporting workers at Activision Blizzard has filed an unfair labor practice complaint to the National Labor Relations Board, alleging the game company has “repeatedly engaged in unlawful conduct” against workers fighting against working conditions at the game maker.

Why it matters: It’s another log on the fire. Activision is already facing an anti-discrimination lawsuit from the state of California, has seen workers hold a walkout and been slammed by activist shareholders for an “inadequate” response.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
18 mins ago - Science

A new NASA astronaut corps for the next era in space

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NASA's next crewed missions to the Moon will need a larger, differently-trained and multi-skilled astronaut corps to deliver on the agency's ambitions.

Why it matters: NASA has plans to fly astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2025 and ultimately establish a long-term presence there. That goal requires a robust corps with new, specialized training in what it takes to live and work on the Moon — and NASA needs to start planning now.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.